Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fix the SYSTEM to Fix the PROBLEM - More Deming

Problems are myriad in construction.  Draw a three foot circle in the center of any random job site in the country, stand a 5th grader of average intelligence in the circle for 3 hours and he or she will report more failure than you could fix in three lifetimes. But the problems so identified are primarily red herrings.

Deming contended fixing the SYSTEM fixes the PROBLEM. And construction, like manufacturing when Deming was doing his work, needs a SYSTEM fix.

An example.

During a visit to a general contractor's job site the project manager spent the entire visit bragging about the company's new onsite inventory management system. The company spent significant time, energy and money formulating, perfecting and implementing the new inventory management system. In other words they struggled mightily to FIX a PROBLEM that manifests itself on virtually every construction project as a direct result of the broken SYSTEM the built industry utilizes to plan, design and construct facilities and infrastructure. That SYSTEM is called Design-Bid-Build and almost every government on the planet insists on mindlessly procuring facilities and infrastructure under that asinine SYSTEM.

A lean logistics colleague, a Deming disciple from the manufacturing arena, asked the young project manager, "Why manage the PROBLEM of excess materials on site when you could just ELIMINATE the problem completely?" His query back, "How could you do that?"  "By switching from the typical piece-meal construction materials delivery SYSTEM," [Which we all know is sacrosanct under Design-Bid-Build] "to a just in-time delivery SYSTEM," she explained.  

"Oh, that won't work in construction," he said. "because construction involves building a unique facility in a unique location and it would be like herding cats to coordinate all those deliveries."

Image result for facepalm

The good news for the young man is that is EXACTLY what her company, Stangate Management, Inc. does for construction clients.

The moral of the story? It is foolish and wasteful to tackle a PROBLEM without identifying its root cause because the vast majority of the time your will be better off fixing the SYSTEM instead.

That Deming was sharp cookie wasn't he? And that Margaret Del Favero of Stangate Management is no slouch herself.

Welcome to the Collaborative Revolution!

James L. Salmon, Esq.
Collaborative Construction
300 Pike Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Summary of Services and James L. Salmon's CV

Office 513-721-5672
Fax 513-562-4388
Cell 512-630-4446

Collaborative Construction Website
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